#66 Shortbread

I made these shortcakes to go with the Mangoes of the Sun dish, but make them any time you want. Greg, Lee and I polished the remaining ones off with mug-fulls of tea and even white wine (we were a bit pissed by then, though!). Make the biscuits any size you want – I used a fluted pastry cutter, but use whatever is at hand, or cut into fingers, or even to a plate sized bit. Traditionally, oats should be used, but the English way is to replace them with flour and corn flour to give the biscuits a delicate, crumbly texture

First, make a flour mixture made up of two parts plain flour to one part corn flour (or rice flour). Either make a big batch of this or make precisely nine ounces. I made just what I needed, though I think I’ll be making some more pretty soon. Mix in 3 ounces of cold, cubes butter and one of sugar (In other words, a ratio of 3:2:1, so you can actually use any amount you want!). Either use a mixer or the tips of your fingers to rub in the butter, and once the mixture is breadcrumb-like, bring it together and knead briefly to form a dough. It will seem too dry at first, but the heat of your hands will help it. Don’t over work the dough either – you want a crumbly biscuit, not a cookie. Roll out the mixture to your preferred thickness and cut into your preferred shape. Put on a baking tray and scatter with more sugar. Bake at 180°C until cooked, you must take them out before they stat to colour, so keep an eye out for the merest hint – the timing will depend on the shape and thickness of your shortbreads.

Lee with said shortcake and mangoes

FYI: Traditional Scottish shortbread goes back to around the Twelfth Century, and it is traditional in the Shetland Isles to break a giant shortbread over the head of the bride on the day of the wedding.

#66 Shortbread – 9/10. Wonderful, crumbly and tasty; and this was the first time I’d ever made them. You cannot but shortcakes like this no matter where you go – they are too crumbly and short to be packaged. You’d just end up with a packet of dust.

#65 Mangoes of the Sun

I need to catch up on the old recipes…

At the weekend Lee came over – I’m glad to see that he’s enthused by the whole Grigson thing – so I made a Green Thai Curry (recipe coming soon) and I wanted a nice healthy pud to go with it. It had been warm and sunny all week, so I went down the tropical route with (#65) Mangoes of the Sun. What this has to do with English Food I do not know. Nevertheless it’s really simple to do and is a really refreshing end to a Thai meal, or indeed any meal. The dessert didn’t stay healthy for long seeing as Grigson says to serve it with shortcake biscuits (recipe coming later today!). Like with tomatoes, leave your mangoes out on a sunny shelf to ripen up – to use an unripe mango would be a disaster!

This makes enough for three: Slice two mangoes down the sides of the large stone, cut the slices in half, peel them, and then slice again but nice and thinly. Cut away any other fleshy bits that are still around the stone. Arrange the slices on a large plate. Next cut three passion fruit in half and scoop out the seeds into a small pan along with 60 ml (about 2 fluid ounces) of water, along with a squeeze of lime juice and half a tablespoon of sugar. Heat the mixture, but don’t let it boil. After a couple of minutes the pulp should be softened and easy to pass through a sieve, leaving just the shiny pips behind. Taste the sieved juice and add extra sugar or lime juice if necessary. Add a few of the black seeds back to the juice and pour over the mangoes. Lastly, cut thin slices of lime and then quarter them so you have little triangles and scatter them over. Hey presto!

FYI: If you are vegetarian, you might be interested to know that mangoes are a source of Omega-3 oils; better than having to eat those crappy flax seeds. Everyday’s a school day!

#65 Mangoes of the Sun: 8/10. Delicious and summery; I could’ve eaten it all to myself. I was tempted to serve cream as well as biscuits with it, but am glad I didn’t. The shortbread soaks up the juice a treat too. Brilliant. Make this whilst it’s still sunny!